Just before the Easter break, sometime Eel Pie Islanders Mystery Jets staged a couple of special gigs to showcase their upcoming fourth album Radlands, an album recorded in Austin, Texas and finished up in, um, Streatham.
In Stoke Newington’s Abney Park Cemetery an audience of invited guests ate pizza and drank margaritas as the band played under the looming uplit structure of the non-denominational chapel.
Beyond London, the band have embarked on a tour of smallish venues (they reach Cardiff tonight), in amongst which they played a free show at Edinburgh’s Electric Circus on April Fools Day.
Martyn Young was in the room and made some notes…
Mystery Jets arrive in Edinburgh on their preview tour of small venues for forthcoming fourth album Radlands in rather a strange situation. Bassist Kai Fish departed the group following the completion of Radlands and this first Scottish show sees them playing only their fourth show with new bassist Peter Cochrane and Matt Park completing the newly extended and augmented line up on pedal steel guitar and keyboards.
Understandably, the band begin rather nervously with the stark stripped back intro of new single Someone Purer. The crowd packed in to the sweaty box of Edinburgh’s Electric Circus bar don’t seem to quite know how to react to the new material until the sky-bursting chorus arrives with its plea to “Give me rock ‘n roll” offers them a chance to cut loose. From then on, the show is a perfect mix of the old and the new giving the crowd the chance to hear a new more developed Mystery Jets sound.
Radlands is described as a concept album about America and a distorted black and white American flag forms the backdrop to the bands performance. You can certainly hear the American influence in the clutch of new songs they air tonight. Greatest Hits is surely a perfectly titled single in waiting and its bouncy melody, redolent of Steelers Wheel’s Stuck In The Middle With You, is the band at their most straightforwardly melodic. There is also a strong country vibe in the lilting waltz of Roses, a lovely duet between guest singer Sophie Rose Harper and guitarist William Rees which they end with a great big kiss.
The big hits from Twenty One and Serotonin form an exuberant end to the gig with Young Love and the eternally youthful romp of Two Doors Down coming across particularly well.
There is a sense that these preview shows see the band in a rather playful mood and a wide smile never seems to leave the face of singer Blaine Harrison and guitarist Rees. The show ends with a rousing sing-along to second album highlight Flakes and Mystery Jets MK II are very much up running.
Mystery Jets’ Radlands is out through Rough Trade on 23 April 2012. The band play London’s Brixton Academy on 18 May 2012.